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Before I talk about Manvar, I want to ask something. Do we even rest these days? We even have packed itineraries during our vacations. While we are all running behind the dreams of our lives, sometimes it is necessary to pause, take a deep breath, and experience life.
Does being surrounded by miles of nothingness intrigue you? What if it is accompanied by a combination of luxury and yet so far away from the modern world. Oh, did I already mention the delicious food you would still crave for years after your visit?
Okay, now enough with all the hype. This is all about experiencing desert life in the Thar Desert. The best way to experience desert life is to stay in the middle of it. And not in any normal hotel but in an actual tent where you can become one with the nature around you. If you are like me with no prior desert experience, camping in these arid regions is not advisable. Still, many great stays offer unique experiences in the Thar Desert.
Manvar Desert Camp is what you’re looking for. They offer various stay options (more on that later) and authentic experiences to enjoy the desert life with great comfort. This is not an advertisement or a paid promotion. During our trip to Rajasthan, we got to stay in their standard tent and enjoy a whole night with the mighty desert life.
What Does Manvar Mean?
Manvar is a word in their local dialect which has a lot of meanings based on context from “hospitality”, “request”, and also “delicious feast”. That is fascinating to me to find a single word to represent everything you mean to offer.
In Manvar’s words,
It is the essence of the spirit of welcome and warmth of a community known for their hospitality.
Where is Manvar Located in Rajasthan?
It is located in the middle of nowhere! But seriously, how to find a place in a sea of sand? Luckily it is still possible, just a little far from sight.
It is located in Khiyansariya, a village in the Shergarh collective nestled between the historic cities of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. This place showcases the ancient civilization and tradition of this area authentically.
Interesting fact! Shergarh holds a legacy of contributing a warrior from every single house, however small or big. Even today, it is home to the largest number of war widows.
Which Manvar Property to Choose?
Manvar has two different zones not far from each other:
- Resort – It is closer to the Sagat Farms, the agriculture hub in the desert.
- Luxury and Private Camping Experience – It is about 7 km from the resort and offers a more authentic desert experience.
Highly recommend! Staying in tents is very different from the resort, although it is just 7 km away. It is so surreal and much more enjoyable to be there peacefully and quietly under a blanket of stars.
We booked our stay at MANVĀR Sevan’s Standard Tent. I won’t say that I never checked out the place online, but I was totally taken by surprise when I visited it. I did some serious research (by which I mean Instagram crawling). I already knew how my tent would look and all about the lovely pool and the other services they offer.
I like good surprises but am too worried about what if it goes wrong. (Something usually does, and that’s very natural, and also because I am clumsy. Sssh!) But you can only find out about their hospitality and the food when you actually visit them.
As we stayed in the standard tent in the desert, the rest of the post will be more about the desert experience. If you are interested in taking the resort option, you could check out Manvar’s website, which has more information.
How to Reach Manvar Desert Camp?
The only way is to go by car, as it is located in a remote desert and is not a tourist hub. You wouldn’t find much public transportation. But hey, if you are more like I can ride a camel, that’s an exciting option (just kidding, you might find a lot of camels chilling on the sides of highways, but please do not approach them.)
It is located at the 110km milestone between Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. They will help you by sharing an exact google location for the place you need to reach first.
Once you reach the location, you are not all there yet. Manvar’s security will be waiting for you with a Jeep to take you to the actual camp, which is only accessible by a vehicle more appropriate for the terrain.
What to Expect at Manvar Desert Camp?
A Warm Welcome
You will be welcomed by Manvar’s staff in their traditional Rajasthani outfit, wearing colorful turbans and, of course, a big smile. You can feel the warmth in their very genuine hospitality.
You can enjoy some delicious in-house welcome drinks while you wait for the check-in process to be completed. They have a lovely seating arrangement overlooking the pool, which reflects the clear blue skies of the desert.
They have a cozy indoor seating arrangement if it is too hot outside. We visited Manvar in January, and the weather was pleasant outside.
Note! The camp is shut from April to August due to adverse weather conditions. Even if they were open, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Rajasthan during the summers.
A Cozy Tent for Yourself
We chose a standard tent for our stay in MANVĀR Sevan. They have different tent options around the main reception and common facilities area. In total, 30 safari-style tents are carefully constructed in a semi-circular arrangement around the courtiers’ hall (Durbar Hall).
Since they are already out there in the open, every tent offers spectacular views over the desert. It feels so much nicer this way. You wouldn’t feel jealous looking at your neighbor’s tent. (Come on, folks! It’s natural to feel that way, and it is completely alright.)
Although the tent looks small on the outside, it opens up to a spacious room on the inside lined with gorgeous custom-designed block print tent linings. It kind of looks like one of the tents where the Weasley family stayed while they went to watch the Quidditch World Cup. (See how I unapologetically inserted another Harry Potter reference).
The tent is luxuriously furnished with authentic teak furniture paired with colorful jute rugs and warm lights, which give a cozy vibe. The tent also has lovely windows to enjoy great desert views while sitting comfortably in your bed. There is also a cute little sit-out with a nice set of relaxing chairs, and the lamps give a vintage vibe.
Other Tent Options
Manvar Kumat – This is Manvar’s luxury tent option. They have 10 tents with a living room of their own and also a separate dining tent.
And if the luxury tent is not luxurious enough!
Manvar Private Camp – This is a moving camp, by which I mean there is no set location of the tent, unlike the others in the desert. It is set up in an exclusive location to offer the best desert views, which are planned according to the ever-changing sand dunes. The desert views from here stretch behind the horizon.
Staying at any of these options in Manvar is more than just a camping experience. Consider it if you want to take your trip to another level, especially if you are visiting with your family.
Delicious Rajasthani Food
We got the keys to our tent (well, that sounds a little different, right?), and we were accompanied to our tent. We refreshed and enjoyed clicking pictures of the tiny colorful birds of the desert.
Then we headed out to their outdoor patio, where we were served some fantastic Rajasthani food. We had Kher Sangri (curry made with a type of desert berry and beans) with roti (Indian bread) for lunch. It was one of the yummiest dishes I have ever tasted to date. This was the first time I had eaten that, and I was curious to know what the veggies were called. Manvar’s staff were kind enough to answer my silly questions about the dish and explained about the Khair (Kher) tree to us. It is indigenous to the region, so we cannot get this dish in other parts of the country. We ended up overeating, not able to resist the tasty curry.
After the delicious lunch, we set out to explore (my mind told me that I could burn down all the calories I had just gulped at once by just walking!) the place a little. We had also signed up for the sunset camel ride. (Spoiler alert! It was the highlight of my stay here).
A Sunset Camel Ride in the Desert
I have seen camels (on the way here and some in zoos), but I don’t know what I thought would be the size of the camel as I was shocked by seeing the animal up close just before hopping on it.
He was majestic and dressed in colorful ornaments and clothes covering the saddle. I was asking the bhaiya (meaning brother in Hindi), who was the handler of the camel, if I was supposed to hop on the camel, which was so tall? That was an obvious no. I was so dumb to ask that, but even when the camel sat, it wasn’t easy for me to jump on. With some help, I managed to do that and felt like I had accomplished something, only to hear the handler say the fun part is coming up when the camel was up on its legs. (Who would have thought about that? Surely not me).
I was holding on to the handle on the saddle to prevent myself from slipping and falling off the tall camel hump. Huh! It was actually quite exciting and fun. We enjoyed the ride as the camel swayed past the ups and downs of the desert terrain, not so graciously chomping on every thorny bush on the way. I wondered if it would hurt him, but it didn’t seem so, as he was enjoying it. It was quite a pleasant experience watching the sun sink through the horizon staining the sky with deep orange color.
After watching a mesmerizing sunset, we returned to the tent during the blue hour. It was quite the sight!
Note! This unique service arranged by the camp will be charged separately and is not part of your accommodation unless mentioned.
A Wonderful Cultural Performance
And hey! Did I tell you? We were the only guests staying in Manvar desert camp that night, so we had the whole place to ourselves. Every night they have a folk music performance for their guests. And I probably thought they wouldn’t do it that night or make it short as we were the only ones. But no! They did an exclusive performance just for us, and it was such a memorable event. Imagine enjoying a folk music performance (obviously with some refreshments) in the desert on a starry cold night sitting in front of the crackling fire, giving out a smoky aura. It was more romantic than I can explain.
The night’s dinner was part of the accommodation package. After being blown away by the magical folk performance, we went to the indoor dining area to enjoy more of the local cuisine. They served us a heartful meal, and then we were off to our tents. We spent some time stargazing from our tents and sit-outs and then went back to sleep.
The beds could get a bit cold at night during winter, even with the heaters on, so they had left a few hot water bags under the blankets so we could crawl into a warm and cozy bed.
A Beautiful Desert Sunrise
The following day we woke up early because we didn’t want to miss the sunrise. It was so beautiful to see the sun rising from a desert’s horizon. It’s not something you can see every day unless you live in the middle of a desert.
Is That All?
No! Some other experiences Manvar offers are:
- Sunrise desert safari (highly recommended) – Enjoy riding through the massive sand dunes as the dawn breaks into a beautiful morning.
- Village walks – Enjoy slow travel in Rajasthan by taking up village walks where you can enjoy the place at a much slower pace while learning a lot about the culture and history of the place.
- Crane spotting – Go watch thousands of birds around the village of Kichan who migrate around through October and March.
We had to skip the safari as we were heading to Jaisalmer a little early to catch up on our itinerary. We enjoyed another delicious breakfast before parting adieu to the beautiful (exclusive) desert camping experience. The same jeep took us back to where our taxi was waiting, ready to pick us up, and we started the remaining part of our journey to Jaisalmer. If you plan to visit Jaisalmer, check out our detailed post about Jaisalmer.
Was It Worth It?
Absolutely, yes! Some stays always hold a special place in our memory as they were either too perfect to be real or offered something more than you expected. For us, it was both. We were looking forward to a much-awaited break from our life, working from home for two years. And, Manvar delivered what we wanted and more. Even after a year, we still fondly talk about it whenever we recollect our experiences in the Thar desert.